The Associated Press April 24, 2012, 5:38PM ET

US to look into reports of Dominican sugar abuses

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor are investigating allegations of forced labor and other abuses in the Dominican Republic's sugar industry as possible violations of a free trade agreement between the countries.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy says the department's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs will work with the Dominican government to investigate charges by a Roman Catholic priest who worked with sugar workers in the Caribbean country.

A statement issued Tuesday says the office has 180 days to review and publicly report on its findings.

Catholic priest Christopher Hartley has accused the major growers of tolerating forced labor, human trafficking and child labor.

Most sugar workers in the Dominican Republic are migrants from neighboring Haiti or people of Haitian descent.

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